She and Him

She and Him – “Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?”
Play Song in New Window


Most movie star-to-musician attempts fail pretty miserably. David Hasslehoff and William Shatner stand out as a couple examples of talents kept best on the big screen and away from the microphone. Not the case, however, with cinema startlet Zooey Deschanel, whose musical debut as lead vocalist and songwriter of the vintage folk duo She & Him is giving indie boys everywhere something to swoon over. For the album, Deschanel, who first gained notice for her supporting role as kid-journalist William Miller’s older sister Anita in “Almost Famous,” teamed up with neo-bluesman M. Ward. The collaboration began when Zooey worked with Ward on the 2006 film “The Go Getter,” singing a duet with him to round out the sound track.

But even though this is the first time she’s released her music to the world, Deschanel has been writing songs since she was eight, squirreling them away until Ward convinced her to share with the rest of us. It’s a good thing he did too, because She & Him’s debut album, Volume One, is a real gem. Ward’s expert playing backs Deschanel’s gorgeous alto, creating a sultry country sound touched with just a hint of 30’s jazz. The album steals from other decades too, like the 1970’s with its diva-style backing vocals, and 50’s doo-wop with airy ooh’s and ahhs. Still everything gets blended together under the umbrella of twangy guitar and Deschanel’s folksy croon.

Lyrically, Deschanel is at best when she’s working with playful material, like in the track “Why’d You Let Me Stay Here?” where she sings as if with a half smile about waiting for a boy to notice her, quipping, “Why don’t you sit right down and stay awhile / We like the same things and I like your style.” But she’s got a flair for more serious subjects, like when she sings about an unwanted break up in “Sentimental Heart,” lamenting “oh old habits die hard when you got when you got a sentimental heart / Piece of the puzzle and you’re my missing part.”

Fans of Ward might be disappointed to find that the folksy troubadour only sings on one song. Still, though, they’ll be pleased to find that his signature guitar plucking is found throughout. And the production, a mix of quirky instrumentation, heavy on rhythmic piano, and filled with a whole load of surprising little sonic flourish, is pure Ward. But ultimately, these are Zooey’s songs and this is her show. Ward’s done exactly what he should, stepped back, freed the stage and made room for this star to walk off the screen and up to the mic.

-By Senior Staff Member Andrew Swerlick


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